Façade of Aalto University, obstructed by snow

In this last instalment of my blog series, we’ll take a closer look at my GEXP experience at Aalto University in approximate figures.

9956 daily steps

Truthfully, this number was lower than I expected. However, considering that my average daily  steps for the 6 months before embarking on the GEXP was about 6000 steps/day, I was indeed more active during the exchange period. 🙂

$7000 in Expenses

In contrast to an estimated living cost of $6800, the actual amount I spent was slightly higher than that. 😞 That being said, given that estimate does not account for COVID-19 restrictions, maybe I didn’t fare so badly. 💀

The table below lists some of the major expense categories. In retrospect, I could have probably spent at least a third less on food if I tried meal prepping, as I mainly dined out (albeit in student restaurants). 

Type Total (SGD)
Accommodations (HOAS) 2100
Flight tickets 2000
Food 950
Transport 400
SIM card 90
*Door Opening 40

Some other recommendations: I tried mobile plans from DNA (Rajaton Prepaid) and Telia (Prepaid netti -liittymä), and I would say that both have their perks. Both plans provided unlimited mobile data within FInland at comparable speeds. The DNA plan cost 0.89€/day (~27€/month) with a minimum top-up value of 5€, while the Telia plan cost 19.90€/month but does not include call time (because it is purely a network plan intended for tablets).

Also, I would advise on designing a system for remembering your keys during your stay in Finland. In most apartments, a single key unlocks all the access points accessible to you, and the doors lock automatically. Hence, it is likely that you will be locked out of your apartment (as I was) at least once during the exchange period. If you live in a shared apartment and you trust your flatmates sufficiently, you can consider disabling the auto-lock for the door to your room to minimize the risk of locking your key in the room. 🥱

1500 Pictures + Videos

To not overload this post with too many words, I’ll present a collection of 15000 words taken across the duration of GEXP, out of context.

125 Days Away from Home

Fun fact: 125 = 5³

48 Credits

I’ve already mentioned the courses I took in this previous post. To add on to that list, below is a picture taken after the Nordic Collegiate Programming Contest (NCPC), which I participated in  for the Competitive Programming course. The NCPC is an annual contest where teams of 3 students from colleges across the Nordic region compete to complete as many of the 11 coding problems assigned as possible within a 5-hour period. Upon completion of each problem, a team receives a coloured balloon corresponding to the problem. 

Balloons in a computer lab

25 Overall Patches

One interesting aspect of student culture in Finland is the student overalls that most, if not all, university students own. The colour of the overalls is unique to each student guild, across universities. Guilds are student communities loosely assigned according to one’s course of study. For example, Tietokilta (Technology Guild) was the student guild for the School of Computer Science in Aalto University, and they had black overalls, as shown in the picture below.

Student overalls are like an extreme take of the school/ club T-shirts in Singapore. Throughout their term of study, students collect embroidered patches from clubs and events to customize their overalls. (Why can’t this be a thing in Singapore?)

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of myself wearing my overalls, so here is a flat lay of it with the patches I collected. 😃

Overalls and embroidered patches arranged on a bed

14 – 6 Hours of Sunlight

If you are embarking on your exchange to Finland during the Fall term, you would be greeted with 14 hours of daylight in August, and leave with 6 hours of daylight in December. Together with longer shadows, this large variation in daylight hours was an interesting juxtaposition to my equatorial experience with the sun thus far.

1 Great EXPerience

‘nuff said

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